Manuscript
Overview
 



A manuscript or handwrite is written information
Information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...

 that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way. The term may also be used for information that is hand-recorded in other ways than writing, for example inscriptions that are chiselled upon a hard material or scratched (the original meaning of graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

) as with a knife point in plaster or with a stylus
Stylus
A stylus is a writing utensil, or a small tool for some other form of marking or shaping, for example in pottery. The word is also used for a computer accessory . It usually refers to a narrow elongated staff, similar to a modern ballpoint pen. Many styli are heavily curved to be held more easily...

 on a waxed tablet (the way Romans made notes), or are in cuneiform writing
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

, impressed with a pointed stylus in a flat tablet of unbaked clay.
Encyclopedia



A manuscript or handwrite is written information
Information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...

 that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way. The term may also be used for information that is hand-recorded in other ways than writing, for example inscriptions that are chiselled upon a hard material or scratched (the original meaning of graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

) as with a knife point in plaster or with a stylus
Stylus
A stylus is a writing utensil, or a small tool for some other form of marking or shaping, for example in pottery. The word is also used for a computer accessory . It usually refers to a narrow elongated staff, similar to a modern ballpoint pen. Many styli are heavily curved to be held more easily...

 on a waxed tablet (the way Romans made notes), or are in cuneiform writing
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

, impressed with a pointed stylus in a flat tablet of unbaked clay. The word manuscript derives from the Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 manuscriptum, a word first recorded in 1594 as a latinisation of earlier Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 words used in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

: compare Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

 hantschrift (c. 1450), Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 handrit (bef. 1300), Old English handgewrit (bef. 1150), all meaning "manuscript", literally, "handwritten".

In publishing
Publishing
Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information—the activity of making information available to the general public...

 and academic contexts, a "manuscript" is the text submitted to the publisher or printer in preparation for publication, usually as a typescript prepared on a typewriter
Typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...

, or today, a printout from a PC
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

, prepared in manuscript format
Manuscript format
Manuscript format is the formatted work that an author submits to a publisher, editor, or producer for publication. Even with the advent of desktop publishing, making it possible for anyone to prepare text that appears professionally typeset, many publishers still require authors to submit...

.

Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 form, scroll
Scroll (parchment)
A scroll is a roll of papyrus, parchment, or paper which has been written, drawn or painted upon for the purpose of transmitting information or using as a decoration.-Structure:...

s or in codex
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

 format. Illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately engrossed initial letters or full-page illustrations.

Cultural background

The traditional abbreviations are MS for manuscript and MSS for manuscripts. The second s is not simply the plural; by an old convention, it doubles the last letter of the abbreviation to express the plural, just as pp. means "pages".

Before the invention of woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 in China or by moveable type in a printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 in Europe, all written documents had to be both produced and reproduced by hand. Historically, manuscripts were produced in form of scroll
Scroll (parchment)
A scroll is a roll of papyrus, parchment, or paper which has been written, drawn or painted upon for the purpose of transmitting information or using as a decoration.-Structure:...

s (volumen in Latin) or book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

s (codex
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

, plural codices). Manuscripts were produced on vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

 and other parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

s, on papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

, and on paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. In Russia birch bark document
Birch bark document
A birch bark document is a document written on pieces of birch bark. Such documents existed in several cultures. For instance, some Gandharan Buddhist texts have been found written on birch bark and preserved in clay jars....

s as old as from the 11th century have survived. In India the Palm leaf manuscript
Palm leaf manuscript
Palm leaf manuscripts are manuscripts made out of dried palm leaves. They served as the paper of the ancient world in parts of Asia as far back as the fifteenth century BCE. and possibly much earlier. They were used to record actual and mythical narratives in South Asia and in South East Asia...

, with a distinctive long rectangular shape, was used from ancient times until the 19th century. Paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 spread from China via the Islamic world to Europe by the 14th century, and by the late 15th century had largely replaced parchment for many purposes.

When Greek or Latin works were published, numerous professional copies were made simultaneously by scribes in a scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

, each making a single copy from an original that was declaimed aloud.

The oldest written manuscripts have been preserved by the perfect dryness of their Middle Eastern resting places, whether placed within sarcophagi
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

 in Egyptian tombs, or reused as mummy
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

-wrappings, discarded in the midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

s of Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus is a city in Upper Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered...

 or secreted for safe-keeping in jars and buried (Nag Hammadi library
Nag Hammadi library
The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. That year, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local peasant named Mohammed Ali Samman...

) or stored in dry caves (Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

). Manuscripts in Tocharian languages
Tocharian languages
Tocharian or Tokharian is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family. The name is taken from the people known to the Greeks as the Tocharians . These are sometimes identified with the Yuezhi and the Kushans. The term Tokharistan usually refers to 1st millennium Bactria, which the...

, written on palm leaves, survived in desert burials in the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

 of Central Asia. Volcanic ash preserved some of the Roman library of the Villa of the Papyri
Villa of the Papyri
The Villa of the Papyri is a private house in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum . Situated north-west of the township, the residence sits halfway up the slope of the volcano Vesuvius without other buildings to obstruct the view. The villa suburbana was owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law,...

 in Herculaneum
Herculaneum
Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in AD 79, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mt...

.
Ironically, the manuscripts that were being most carefully preserved in the libraries of Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 are virtually all lost. Papyrus has a life of at most a century or two in relatively moist Italian or Greek conditions; only those works copied onto parchment, usually after the general conversion to Christianity, have survived, and by no means all of those.

Originally, all books were in manuscript form. In China, and later other parts of East Asia, Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 was used for books from about the seventh century. The earliest dated example is the Diamond Sutra
Diamond Sutra
The Diamond Sūtra , is a short and well-known Mahāyāna sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā, or "Perfection of Wisdom" genre, and emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment...

 of 868. In the Islamic world and the West, all books were in manuscript until the introduction of movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 in about 1450. Manuscript copying of books continued for a least a century, as printing remained expensive. Private or government documents remained hand-written until the invention of the typewriter
Typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...

 in the late nineteenth century. Because of the likelihood of errors being introduced each time a manuscript was copied, the filiation of different version of the same text is a fundamental part of the study and criticism of all texts that have been transmitted in manuscript.

In Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, in the first millennium, documents of sufficiently great importance were inscribed on soft metallic sheets such as copperplate, softened by refiner's fire and inscribed with a metal stylus. In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, for example, as early as 900, specimen documents were not inscribed by stylus, but were punched much like the style of today's dot-matrix printers. This type of document was rare compared to the usual leaves and bamboo staves that were inscribed. However, neither the leaves nor paper were as durable as the metal document in the hot, humid climate. In Burma, the kammavaca, buddhist manuscripts, were inscribed on brass, copper or ivory sheets, and even on discarded monk robes folded and lacquered. In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 some important Etruscan
Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

 texts were similarly inscribed on thin gold plates: similar sheets have been discovered in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. Technically, these are all inscriptions rather than manuscripts.

The study of the writing, or "hand" in surviving manuscripts is termed palaeography
Palaeography
Palaeography, also spelt paleography is the study of ancient writing. Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts, and the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing and books were produced, and the history of...

. In the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, from the classical period
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 through the early centuries of the Christian era, manuscripts were written without spaces between the words (scriptio continua
Scriptio continua
Scriptio continua is a style of writing without spaces or other marks between words or sentences....

), which makes them especially hard for the untrained to read. Extant copies of these early manuscripts written in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 or Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and usually dating from the 4th century to the 8th century, are classified according to their use of either all upper case or all lower case letters. Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 manuscripts, such as the Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 make no such differentiation. Manuscripts using all upper case letters are called majuscule, those using all lower case are called minuscule. Usually, the majuscule scripts such as uncial
Uncial
Uncial is a majuscule script commonly used from the 3rd to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes. Uncial letters are written in either Greek, Latin, or Gothic.-Development:...

 are written with much more care. The scribe lifted his pen between each stroke, producing an unmistakable effect of regularity and formality. On the other hand, while minuscule scripts can be written with pen-lift, they may also be cursive
Cursive
Cursive, also known as joined-up writing, joint writing, or running writing, is any style of handwriting in which the symbols of the language are written in a simplified and/or flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing easier or faster...

, that is, use little or no pen-lift.

Modern variations

In modern times it can be classed as a sustainability strategy
In the context of library science
Library science
Library science is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources; and the...

, a manuscript is defined as any hand-written item in the collections of a library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 or an archive
Archive
An archive is a collection of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of an organization...

; for example, a library's collection of the letters or a diary
Diary
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

 that some historical personage wrote. Such manuscript collections are described in finding aids, similar to an index or table of contents to the collection, in accordance with national and international content standards such as DACS
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Describing Archives: A Content Standard is a set of rules for describing archives, personal papers, and manuscript collections. The descriptive standard can be utilized for all types of archival material...

 and ISAD(G)
ISAD(G)
ISAD defines the elements that should be included in an archival finding aid. It was approved by the International Council on Archives as a standard to register archival documents produced by corporations, persons and families.-History:After initial activities since 1988 supported by UNESCO, a...

.

In other contexts, however, the use of the term "manuscript" no longer necessarily means something that is hand-written. By analogy a typescript has been produced on a typewriter.

In book, magazine, and music publishing, a manuscript is an original copy of a work written by an author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 or composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

, which generally follows standardized typographic and formatting rules. (The staff paper commonly used for handwritten music is, for this reason, often called "manuscript paper.") In film and theatre, a manuscript, or script for short, is an author's or dramatist's text, used by a theater company or film crew
Film crew
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew positions.A film crew is a group of people hired by a production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. Crew are distinguished from cast, the Actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for...

 during the production of the work's performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 or film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

ing. More specifically, a motion picture manuscript is called a screenplay
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

; a television manuscript, a teleplay
Teleplay
A teleplay is a television play, a comedy or drama written or adapted for television. The term surfaced during the 1950s with wide usage to distinguish a television plays from stage plays for the theater and screenplays written for films...

; a manuscript for the theater, a stage play; and a manuscript for audio-only performance is often called a radio play
Radio drama
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story...

, even when the recorded performance is disseminated via non-radio means.

In insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

, a manuscript policy is one that is negotiated between the insurer and the policyholder, as opposed to an off-the-shelf form supplied by the insurer.

European manuscript history

Most surviving pre-modern manuscripts use the codex
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

 format (as in a modern book), which had replaced the scroll
Scroll
A scroll is a roll of parchment, papyrus, or paper, which has been drawn or written upon.Scroll may also refer to:*Scroll , the decoratively curved end of the pegbox of string instruments such as violins...

 by Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. Parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

, or vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

 as the best type of parchment is known had also replaced papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

, which was not nearly so long lived and has survived to the present only in the extremely dry conditions of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, although it was widely used across the Roman world. Parchment is made of animal skin, normally calf
Calf
Calves are the young of domestic cattle. Calves are reared to become adult cattle, or are slaughtered for their meat, called veal.-Terminology:...

, sheep, and/or goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

, but also other animals. With all skins, the quality of the finished product is based on how much preparation and skill was put into turning the skin into parchment. Parchment made from calf or sheep was the most common in Northern Europe, while in Southern Europe, those civilizations preferred goatskin. Often, if the parchment is white or cream in color and veins from the animal can still be seen, it is calfskin. If it is yellow, greasy or in some cases shiny, then it was made from sheepskin.

Vellum comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word vitulinum which means “of calf”/ “made from calf”. For modern parchment makers and calligraphers, and apparently often in the past, the terms parchment and vellum are used based on the different degrees of quality, preparation and thickness, and not according to which animal the skin came from, and because of this, the more neutral term "membrane" is often used by modern academics, especially where the animal has not been established by testing.

Because they are books, pre-modern manuscripts are best described using bibliographic rather than archival standards. The standard endorsed by the American Library Association is known as AMREMM. A growing digital catalog of pre-modern manuscripts is Digital Scriptorium
Digital Scriptorium
Introduction. The Digital Scriptorium is a non-commercial online image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts, or manuscripts made in the tradition of books before printing. DS unites scattered resources from a consortium of many libraries into a union catalog for teaching and scholarly...

, hosted by the University of California at Berkeley.

Preparing a manuscript

The first stage in creating a manuscript is to prepare the skin so that the writer can write on it. The skin is washed with water and lime, but not together, and it has to soak in the lime for a couple of days. The hair is removed and the skin is dried by attaching it to a frame called a herse. The parchment maker attached the skin at points around the circumference. The skin is attached to the herse by cords; to prevent tearing, the maker wrapped the area of the skin to which the cord is to be attached around a pebble called a pippin. After that is complete, the maker will use a crescent shaped knife, called lunarium or lunellum, to clean any surviving hairs. Once the skin is completely dry, it will be given a deep clean, and it will be processed into sheets. The number of sheets out of a piece of skin depends on the size of the skin and the given dimensions requested by the order. For example, the average calfskin can provide three and half medium sheets of writing material. This can be doubled when it is folded into two conjoint leaves, also known as a bifolium. Historians have found evidence of manuscripts where the scribe wrote down the medieval instructions now followed by modern membrane makers. Of course with any natural made product there will be some defects. Defects can be any sort of mistake in the membrane, whether it was human error during the preparation period or from when the animal was killed. Defects can also appear during the writing process. Unless it is kept in perfect condition, defects can appear later in the manuscript’s life as well.

Preparation of the pages for writing

Before anything a scribe can do, the membrane must be prepared. This will be listed in steps, as they occur today when making traditional animal skin manuscripts and as they did back in the Middle Ages. The first step is to setup the quires. The quires is a group of several sheets put together. Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham point out, in "Introduction to Manuscript Studies", that “the quire was the scribe’s basic writing unit throughout the Middle Ages”.

Pricking and ruling the leaves

In "Introduction to Manuscript Studies", Clemens and Graham define pricking and ruling perfectly

“Pricking is the process of making holes in a sheet of parchment (or membrane) in preparation of it ruling. The lines were then made by ruling between the prick marks.”

and on ruling
“The process of entering ruled lines on the page to serve as a guide for entering text. Most manuscripts were ruled with horizontal lines that served as the baselines on which the text was entered and with vertical bounding lines that marked the boundaries of the columns.”

After this stage, the scribe would get to work copying from the original work to his collection of sheets of parchment.

Forming the quire

The scribe, usually a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

, would decide on what his quire would look like, by arranging the hair and flesh sides of the sheets. Throughout time from Carolingian period and all the way up to the Middles Ages, different styles of folding the quire came about. For example, though out mainland Europe throughout the Middle Ages, the quire would be put into a system which each side would fold on to the same style. The hair side would meet the hair side and the same goes with the flesh side. This was not the same style used in the British Isles, where the membrane would be folded so that it turned out a eight leaf quire, with single leaves in the third and sixth positions. Once the scribe has it the way that he wants, the next stage was tacking the quire. Tacking is when the scribe would hold together the leaves in quire with thread. Once threaded together, the scribe would then sew a line of parchment up the “spine” of the manuscript, as to protect the tacking.

A sample of common genres of manuscripts

From ancient texts to medieval maps, anything written down for study would have been done with manuscripts. Some of the most common genres were bibles, religious commentaries, philosophy, law and government texts.

Bibles

“The Bible was the most studied book of the Middle Ages.”
The Bible was the center of medieval religious life. Along with the Bible, came scores of commentaries. Commentaries were written in volumes, with some focusing on just single pages of scripture. Across Europe, there were universities that prided themselves on their biblical knowledge. Along with Universities, certain cities also had their own celebrities of the medieval

Book of Hours

The book of hours
Book of Hours
The book of hours was a devotional book popular in the later Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. Like every manuscript, each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and...

 was a devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. Like every manuscript, each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and psalms, often with appropriate decorations, for Christian devotion. Illumination or decoration is minimal in many examples, often restricted to decorated capital letters at the start of psalms and other prayers, but books made for wealthy patrons may be extremely lavish, with full-page miniatures.

Liturgical Books and Calendars

Along with Bibles, large numbers of manuscripts made in the Middle Ages were revieved in Church. Due to the church’s complex system of rituals and worship, these books were finally written and most decorated of all medieval manuscripts. Liturgical books, usually, came in two varieties. Those used during Mass and those for Divine Office.

Most liturgical books came with a calendar in the front. This served as a quick reference point for important dates in Christ Jesus's life and to tell Church officials which Saints were to be honored and on what day. The format of the Liturgical Calendar was as followed:

an example of a medieval liturgical calendar
January, August, December March, May, July, October April, June, September, November February
Kal. (1) Kal. (1) Kal. (1) Kal. (1)
IV Non. (2) VI Non. (2) IV Non. (2) IV Non. (2)
III Non. (3) V Non. (3) III Non. (3) III Non. (3)
II Non. (4) IV Non. (4) II Non. (4) II Non. (4)
Non. (5) III Non. (5) Non. (5) Non. (5)
VIII Id. (6) II Non. (6) VIII Id. (6) VIII Id. (6)
VII Id. (7) Non. (7) VII Id. (7) VII Id. (7)
VI Id. (8) VIII Id. (8) VI Id. (8) VI Id. (8)
V Id. (9) VII Id. (9) V Id. (9) V Id. (9)
IV Id. (10) VII Id. (10) IV Id. (10) IV Id. (10)
III Id. (11) V Id. (11) III Id. (11) III Id. (11)
II Id. (12) IV Id. (12) II Id. (12) II Id. (12)
Id (13) III Id. (13) Id. (13) Id. (13)
XIX Kal. (14) II Id. (14) XVIII Kal. (14) XVI Kal. (14)
XVIII Kal. (15) Id. (15) XVII Kal. (15) XV Kal. (15)
XVII Kal. (16) XVII Kal. (16) XVI Kal. (16) XIV Kal. (16)
XVI Kal. (17) XVI Kal. (17) XV Kal. (17) XIII Kal. (17)
XV Kal. (18) XV Kal. (18) XIV Kal. (18) XII Kal. (18)
XIV Kal. (19) XIV Kal. (19) XIII Kal. (19) XI Kal. (19)
XIII Kal. (20) XIII Kal. (20 XII Kal. (20) X Kal. (20)
XII Kal. (21) XII Kal. (21) XI Kal. (21) IX Kal. (21)
XI Kal. (22) XI Kal. (22) X Kal. (22) VIII Kal. (22)
X Kal. (23) X Kal. (23) IX Kal. (23) VII Kal. (23)
IX Kal. (24) IX Kal. (24) VIII Kal. (24) VI Kal (the extra day in a leap year)
VIII Kal. (25) VIII Kal. (25) VII Kal. (25) VI Kal. (24/25)
VII Kal. (26) VII Kal. (26) VI Kal. (26) V Kal. (25/26)
VI Kal. (27) VI Kal. (27) V Kal. (28) V Kal. (26/27)
V Kal. (28) V Kal. (28) V Kal. (28) V Kal. (27/28)
IV Kal. (29) IV Kal. (29) III Kal. (29) III Kal. (28/29)
III Kal. (30) III Kal. (30) II Kal. (30)
II Kal. (31) II Kal. (31)

Almost all medieval calendars give each day’s date according to the Roman method of reckoning time. In the Roman system, each month had three fixed points, known as Kalends (Kal), the Nons and the Ides. The nones fell on the fifth of the month in January, February, April, June, August, September, November and December, but on the seventh of the month in March, May, July and October. The ides ell on the thirteenth in those months in which the nones fell on the fifth, and the fifteenth in the other four months. All other days were dated by the number of days by which they preceded one of those fixed points.

Different Scripts

Merovingian script
Merovingian script
Merovingian script was a medieval script so called because it was developed in France during the Merovingian dynasty. It was used in the 7th and 8th centuries before the Carolingian dynasty and the development of Carolingian minuscule.-Script types:...

, or "Luxeuil minuscule", is named after an abbey in Western France, the Luxeuil Abbey, founded by the Irish missionary St Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

 in ca.590. Caroline minuscule is a script
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 developed as a writing standard in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 so that the Roman alphabet could be easily recognized by the small literate class from one region to another. It was used in Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's empire between approximately 800 and 1200. Codices, classical and Christian texts, and educational material were written in Carolingian minuscule throughout the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

. The script developed into blackletter and became obsolete, though its revival in the Italian renaissance forms the basis of more recent scripts. In Introduction to Manuscript Studies, Clemens and Graham associate the beginning of this text coming from the Abby of Saint-Martin at Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

.

Caroline Minuscule arrived in England in the second half of the 10th century. Its adoption there, replacing Insular script, was encouraged by the importation of continental European manuscripts by Saints Dunstan, Aethelwold, and Oswald. This script spread quite rapidly, being employed in many English centres for copying Latin texts. English scribes adapted the Carolingian script, giving it proportion and legibility.[9] This new revision of the Caroline Minuscule was called English Protogothic Bookhand.
Another script that is derived from the Caroline Minuscule was the German Protogothic Bookhand. It originated in southern Germany during the second half of the 12 century.
All the indiviual letters are Caroline; but just as with English Protogothic Bookhand it evolved. This can be seen most notably in the arm of the letter h. It has a hairline that tapers out by curving to the left. When first read the German Protogothic h looks like the German Protogothic b. Many more scripts sprang out of the German Protogothic Bookhand. After those came Bastard Anglicana, which is best described as:


The coexistence in the Gothic period of formal hands employed for the copying of books and cursive scripts used for documentary purposes eventually resulted in cross-fertilization between these two fundamentally different writing styles. Notably, scribes began to upgrade some of the cursive scripts. A script that has been thus formalized is known as a bastard script (whereas a bookhand that has had cursive elementas fused onto it is known as a hybrid script). The advantage of such a script was that it could be written more quickly than a pure bookhand; it thus recommended itself to scribes in a period when demand for books was increasing and authors were tending to write longer texts. In England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, many books were written in the script known as Bastard Anglicana.

Major US Repositories of Medieval Manuscripts

  • Pierpont Morgan = 1,300 (including papyri)
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
    Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
    Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a 1963 gift of the Beinecke family. The building was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft of the firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and is the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books...

    , Yale = 1,100
  • Houghton Library
    Houghton Library
    Houghton Library is the primary repository for rare books and manuscripts at Harvard University. It is part of the Harvard College Library within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Houghton is located on the south side of Harvard Yard, next to Widener Library.- History :Harvard's first...

    , Harvard = 850
  • Huntington Library = 400
  • Newberry Library
    Newberry Library
    The Newberry Library is a privately endowed, independent research library for the humanities and social sciences in Chicago, Illinois. Although it is private, non-circulating library, the Newberry Library is free and open to the public...

     = 260
  • Cornell University Library
    Cornell University Library
    The Cornell University Library is the library system of Cornell University. In 2010 it held 8 million printed volumes in open stacks, 8.5 million microfilms and microfiches, more than of manuscripts, and close to 500,000 other materials, including motion pictures, DVDs, sound recordings, and...

     = 150

See also

  • Armenian Illuminated manuscript
    Armenian illuminated manuscript
    Armenian illuminated manuscripts form a separate tradition, related to other forms of Medieval Armenian art, but also to the Byzantine tradition. The earliest surviving examples date from the Golden Age of Armenian art and literature in the 5th century...

  • Dead Sea Scrolls
    Dead Sea scrolls
    The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

  • Digital Scriptorium
    Digital Scriptorium
    Introduction. The Digital Scriptorium is a non-commercial online image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts, or manuscripts made in the tradition of books before printing. DS unites scattered resources from a consortium of many libraries into a union catalog for teaching and scholarly...

  • Genkō yōshi
    Genko yoshi
    is a type of Japanese paper used for writing. It is printed with squares, typically 200 or 400 per sheet, each square designed to accommodate a single Japanese character or punctuation mark...

  • Gospel Book
    Gospel Book
    The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

  • List of Hiberno-Saxon illustrated manuscripts
  • Manuscript culture
    Manuscript culture
    Manuscript culture uses manuscripts to store and disseminate information; in the West, it generally preceded the age of printing. In early manuscript culture monks copied manuscripts by hand, mostly religious texts. Medieval manuscript culture deals with the transition of the manuscript from the...

  • Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
    Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
    The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment...

  • Music manuscript
    Music manuscript
    Music manuscripts are handwritten sources of music. Generally speaking, they can be written on paper or parchment. If the manuscript contains the composer's handwriting it is called an autograph. Music manuscripts can contain musical notation as well as texts and images...

  • Palm-leaf manuscript
  • Preservation of Illuminated Manuscripts
    Preservation of Illuminated Manuscripts
    Preserving parchment becomes more difficult when pigments, inks, and illumination are added into the equation. Pigments do not dye parchment; instead, they lie on the surface of the parchment and so are rather fragile. The goal of restoring illuminated manuscripts should be to make them as...

  • Printing press
    Printing press
    A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

  • Voynich manuscript
    Voynich manuscript
    The Voynich manuscript, described as "the world's most mysterious manuscript", is a work which dates to the early 15th century, possibly from northern Italy. It is named after the book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912....

  • Woodblock printing
    Woodblock printing
    Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....



External links

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